Living In Space

Living In Space

Living In Space









Living In Space

Lucy Bowman & Abigail Wheatley

Rafael Mayani

Usborne, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A9.99


With the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon approaching on July 20; the loss of the Mars Rover  after 15 years; and the Chinese landing a probe on the dark side of the moon space happenings are taking a prominent place in news bulletins this year and young minds start to think about what life in space might be like – something that is a distinct possibility for them.

Living In Space is from the Usborne Beginners series, a collection that is ideal for young readers to explore topics of interest as they are written in accessible language with lots of photographs and illustrations and supported by all the key cues and clues to support their independence in information literacy such as a contents page, index and glossary.  In it, they can learn about what it is like to work, eat and sleep in space with enough information to satisfy their initial curiosity and this, in turn, is supported by links to specifically chosen websites that will tell them more.  And if they want to learn about other aspects of space, they can search the Usborne Quicklinks site for “space” and find books and links to whatever they are curious about.

Up-to-date, easy-to-access and an in-demand topic make this a valuable addition to a collection that will get a lot of focus this year. 


How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)










How To Raise Your Grown-Ups (Hubert Horatio, Book 1)

Lauren Child

HarperCollins Children’s, 2018

208pp., hbk., RRP $A 19.99


“These stories are about the days when the Bobton-Trents had it cushy, very cushy indeed.”

The Bobton-Trent seniors certainly know how to make the most of their extravagant wealth – socialising, doing things, buying things and generally being more than a little bit … irresponsible…

Luckily for them, their son Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent is an exceptionally intelligent, talented and sensible child.

Unluckily for Hubert, this tends to mean that a lot of his spare time is spent steering his rather unruly set of grown-ups out of trouble. So oblivious are they, they don’t realise that their lavish lifestyle means that their money has run out. even when the Bobton-Trents and their guests sit at a bare dinner table, waiting for an hour and 22 minutes for the maid to serve them, unaware that the staff has left.  They are also unaware of their only child’s immense talents –  he phones his parents at the age of one, reads at two and-when he tumbles into the pool at age three-discovers that he is “”a natural swimmer – and when their financial situation becomes clear to him, he tries ways to raise money through schemes like hosting board game sessions and opening the mansion up for tours, but all his schemes fail because his parents just spend the proceeds. It even becomes his decision to sell the mansion and downsize to an apartment!

Lauren Child brings her unique combination of story-telling, illustration and humour to this new series of books for the newly-independent reader.  Even though the message about money not necessarily being the happiness-bringer it is reputed to be may be lost on the target audience, nevertheless young readers will delight in the outrageous lifestyle and Hubert’s constant vigilance and tactics to keep the family afloat. Those who are a little older might like to think about how income is derived and disbursed and the sorts of decisions that must be made. 

With the second episode Alien Beings due later this year, this is a series that will become very popular as the word spreads among your students. 

Little People, Big Dreams (series)

Little People, Big Dreams

Little People, Big Dreams









Little People, Big Dreams (series)

Muhammad Ali


Stephen Hawking


Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

New to the Little People, Big Dreams series, young readers can delve into the lives of these two men who, in their own unique ways, made such a contribution to the world of sport and science respectively. Presented in a picture book format and focusing on the childhood events that shaped their future decisions and success, the series is an excellent introduction to the biography genre.

As a child, young Cassius Clay had his bike stolen. He wanted to fight whoever stole his bike, but a police officer told him to control his anger, and learn how to box. After training hard in the gym, Cassius developed a strong hook and a stronger work ethic. His smart thinking and talking, inside and outside the ring, earned him the greatest title in boxing: Heavyweight Champion of the World while Stephen used to look up at the stars and wonder what else was out there. After gaining his education at Oxford University, Stephen went on to make a groundbreaking discovery to do with black holes: Hawking radiation. Although his health was declining due to MS, Stephen was more determined than ever to study and share his findings with the world. With his trademark voice and wit, Stephen brought science to everyone and became loved around the world.

Rather than a dry book of facts and figures, this series is intended to show our young students that even the most famous people came from ordinary beginnings, often similar to their own, and that it was a dream and the perseverance, determination and resilience to chase it that made the difference.  Perhaps they, too, have such a dream and with such inspiration could one day find themselves being in a series such as tis.



Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Australian Backyard Earth Scientist










Australian Backyard Earth Scientist

Peter Macinnis

NLA Publishing, 2019

248pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99


Anyone who knows Peter Macinnis, either personally or through his writing, knows that he is passionate about connecting young children with science and this latest contribution to the education of our students sits perfectly alongside his Australian Backyard Explorer and Australian Backyard Naturalist

In it, Macinnis takes the reader on a journey from explaining what earth science is and the earliest beginnings of the planet to the current debate about climate change, stopping along the way to investigate and explain all sorts of things which affect the development, health and performance of the planet like how rain is formed, the various types of rocks that lie beneath our feet, the impact of the currents on life and a zillion other things like why humidity is a critical factor in bushfire season, all tailored to helping young scientists understand what is happening in their own backyard.  It’s not “out there”, it’s right in front of them.  

Using his incessantly curious mind, he ferrets out all sorts of unknown facts and curiosities and then writes about them in a way that makes them so easily readable by his young target audience while giving them all the information they need yet not overloading them with too much detail. He leaves the door open for further investigation from more specialised sources.  The book is richly illustrated with photos, many of his own, diagrams and charts and there are projects to undertake, sections that delve more deeply into a topic, and ‘ologists’ to investigate and inspire.  

But for all the facts and figures and photos, there shines through a deep and abiding respect for this planet and an acute awareness that we must do more to protect it, and it is through young people having the knowledge and understanding about how it works that is likely to make the most difference.  Even though it has a global perspective, readers are inspired to “think global, act local” and examine what it is they can do to make their part of the world a better place for all, such as making a frog pond and keeping a seasonal diary.

If you add one non fiction book to your collection  this year, then this should be it – and if you don’t have the previous two then track them down through the NLA Bookshop.

Teachers’ notes are now available.

Princess Scallywag and the No-Good Pirates

Princess Scallywag and the No-Good Pirates

Princess Scallywag and the No-Good Pirates










Princess Scallywag and the No-Good Pirates

Mark Sperring

Claire Powell

HarperCollins, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Princess Scallywag and the Queen are out on the royal yacht enjoying the fresh air when they are invaded by three stinky, sweaty, no-good pirates waving their swords and determined to take them prisoner. 

But three stinky, sweaty, no-good pirates are no match for the quick-thinking Queen and the persnickety princess, although it is touch-and-go for a while as they desperately try to save themselves from being made galley slaves, scrubbing the decks and walking the plank!

A sequel to Princess Scallywag And The Brave, Brave Knight, this is a bold adventure story for those who like their princesses feisty, clever, and subversive.

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

BumbleBunnies: The Pond

BumbleBunnies: The Pond










BumbleBunnies: The Pond

Graeme Base

HarperCollins, 2018

24pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99


Early one morning Wuffle the puppy, Lou the kitten and Billington the duck are playing with Wuffle’s new ball when they accidentally send it into the pond.  Billington goes after the ball and Wuffle jumps in too, but Wuffle can’t swim.  Is he going to drown? It looks like this will be a story with an unhappy ending when suddenly, out of the blue sky comes an amazing sight…

This is the first in a new series by the amazing Graeme Base, written for our earliest readers.  (The second, The Sock, is due later this month, with two more later in the year.) In it he uses simple text and his exquisite detailed artwork to bring everyday incidents to life in story, with the added twist of three superhero bunnies who use their intelligence and unique skills to get the heroes out of potentially dangerous situations.

Apart from being entertaining stories in themselves, the nature of series means that even little ones can learn about each character and carry what they know of them over to the next book.  They will delight in helping the BumbleBunnies choose what is needed for each situation, giving them a sense of power over the words, that most stories don’t have and suggesting the ways that the BumbleBunnies can each use their skills to rescue the situation.

While this is quite a departure from his works for older children, nevertheless, Base’s attention to detail in the illustrations makes them so rich that they demand to be read over and over again with something new to discover each time.


Learn with Ruby Red Shoes Counting Book

Learn with Ruby Red Shoes Counting Book

Learn with Ruby Red Shoes Counting Book








Learn with Ruby Red Shoes Counting Book

Kate Knapp

Angus & Robertson, 2018

32pp., hbk., RRP $A14.99



One is for me. I’m one of a kind.

I’m separate from you and

I know my own mind.

Unlike a lot of counting books for early childhood which just have a digit and a word and the required number of objects (of whatever theme) beside them, this is more personalised as Ruby introduces the young reader to the things that she likes.  The rhyming format and the gentle pictures which earned the creator a shortlisting 2013 Children’s Book Council of Australia Crichton Award for Children’s Book Illustration, carry the story from page to page and do more than just teach counting and matching skills.

Ruby Red Shoes is fast becoming a popular figure with our littlest readers and the accompanying website with its activities, news, and opportunity to write to Ruby provides a broader experience.  

Also released at this time is the requisite alphabet book and in March 2019, two more books will be added to the series.

Coming soon...

Coming soon…








The Extraordinary Life of …(series)

The Extraordinary Life of ...(series)

The Extraordinary Life of …(series)








The Extraordinary Life of …(series)

Michelle Obama

Dr Sheila Kanani


Malala Yousafzai

Rita Petralucci


Stephen Hawking

Esther Mols


Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Stephen Hawking …all contemporary heroes who have contributed much more than the average person to making the world a better place and who are the three initial subjects of a new series from Puffin called The Extraordinary Life of…  To be joined in June by Neil Armstrong, Anne Frank and Katherine Johnson, then later in the year by Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Mary Seacole,  this is a new series of biographies for young independent readers introducing them to those who have shaped their world.

Done with a monochromatic theme with lots of line drawings it combines the essential information of each person’s life with significant quotes that encapsulate their philosophy for doing what they do. 

“When someone takes away your pens you realize quite how important education is”.  Malala Yousafzai

“You too can reach your dreams and then your job is to reach back and to help someone just like you, do the same thing. ”  Michelle Obama

“I am happy if I have added something to the understanding of our universe. ” Stephen Hawking.

Three different people doing different things but with a common philosophy that focuses on humanity as a whole.

Written in a style and format that fosters a desire to continue reading rather than dipping and delving to find facts, this series is a way to introduce young readers to biography as a genre and its focus on people whose names may well be familiar to the audience will draw in those who might not yet be aware of this type of non fiction. Thus they are not only learning about the person in focus but discovering a new genre that will open up new reading pathways and perhaps inspire them. While our collections abound with biographies, they might not appeal to young readers so a series that captures the current desire for short bursts of information presented in a non-traditional way deserves serious consideration for adding to your collection. 




Amelia Chamelia and the Birthday Party

Amelia Chamelia and the Birthday Party

Amelia Chamelia and the Birthday Party










Amelia Chamelia and the Birthday Party

Laura Sieveking

Alyssa Bermudez

Puffin Books, 2019

96pp., pbk., RRP $A9.99

There is not much that is more exciting that planning your 8th birthday party because at last you are old enough to have a say in everything. And so that’s what Amelia Chamelia is doing – choosing invitations, making decorations, sorting out costumes, making party bags.  Whatever is required for the best party ever, Amelia is making sure she has it.  The only dark cloud on the horizon is that she has to invite her twin cousins Danny and Andy and she knows they are going to be trouble.  And sure enough they are…

But Amelia has a secret power. A power that nobody else knows about. When she is furious or frightened, she can change colour. Her toes tingle, her knees tremble, her skin prickles, her nose tickles, her breath quickens and then with a hiccup she changes colour to blend in with the background, just like a chameleon.

This is the first in a new series for newly independent readers, particularly girls, who are looking for something that focuses on familiar events but which has a special twist in the tale.  Short chapters, a larger font and plentiful illustrations support the reader in consolidating their skills while offering a well-written story that engages and entertains.  Other titles are Amelia Chamelia and the Gelato Surprise, Amelia Chamelia and the School Play, and Amelia Chamelia and the Farm Adventure.  The first two are out now, just in time for the back-to-school excitement, the other two will be available in early April, 2019.

I think this is a series that will appeal to Miss 7 who is already in the throes of planning her 8th birthday, even though it is still two months away! Let’s hope she doesn’t have any evil twins to invite because I’m pretty sure she can’t change colour!

DK Life Stories (series)

DK Life Stories

DK Life Stories









DK Life Stories


Diane Bailey


Albert Einstein

Wil Mara


Helen Keller

Libby Romero


Katherine Johnson

Ebony Joy Wilkins


128pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99

At last the people with the power of the purse strings are beginning to realise that not everything is available online, and what is there is unlikely to be at a reading level accessible to our developing readers, and publishers are responding to the resurgence in demand for quality non fiction resources in print format.  While DK have continued to produce quality print materials throughout this misguided era of everything having to be screen-based, their new Life Stories series, biographies for younger readers, is a welcome addition to a genre that can be the entry point to a world of inspiration for a new generation.

Currently comprising about a dozen  titles, including most of the usual subjects found in this sort of series, the one that caught my eye was that of Katherine Johnson, she who is now the famed NASA mathematician and one of the subjects of the best-selling book and movie Hidden Figures. Miss 12 was just awarded her school’s Science and Technology prize for her work in coding and so this is just perfect for inspiring her to maintain her passion and continue to break down barriers as she moves on to high school.  

Using accessible text, photographs and the usual DK production quality, this series tells the stories behind the celebrities bringing them alive for students who now understand that their world is much larger and older than they are and that many have gone before as pioneers, often against incredible odds, so that they can enjoy the life they do.  Perhaps others would eventually have done what Katherine Johnson did, but for Miss 12 who has the self-doubt and mood swings so typical of her age group, it is Katherine’s story of resilience and determination that is as important as her achievements, just as it is for all the others featured in this series, so it is inspirational on many levels.  When she feels overwhelmed, hopefully she will draw on Katherine’s story to find the courage to take the next step.

That sort of engagement doesn’t come from reading a dispassionate fact-and-figures webpage and so this book in particular and the series in general will be a superb addition to both private and school libraries this year.